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2 Kazakh Cosmonauts to Undergo Training at Russia's Stellar City - 6 March, 2003

Two Kazakh cosmonauts will undergo training at the Stellar City near Moscow. The expenses will be included in Russia's rental for the Baikonur launch site that is located in Kazakhstan, said the Russian Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre.

"This will allow to cut the rental by one third," said a Centre official. Russia pays close on $115 million to Kazakhstan for renting Baikonur, he recalled.

Kazakhstan's Air Force Major Aidyn Aimbetov and ex-war pilot Mukhtar Aimakhanov has been admitted to an interim team of cosmonauts. If the Russian aerospace agency, Rosaviakosmos, approves their candidatures in March, they will take a two-year general space training course and will be able to fly Russian spacecraft.

"They are likely to make their first space flight in late 2005 or early 2006. Up to 4 Soyuz TMA spaceships will be servicing the International Space Station /ISS/ then. As of today, only two Russian spacecraft are sent to the ISS every year," said the centre.

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